Forbes names Louisville America's Most Valuable Team


by Michelle Arnold

Posted on March 18, 2014 at 6:22 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 18 at 6:22 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – The University of Louisville basketball team is a big generator for the athletic department, university and conference.

Forbes released its findings and Louisville tops them all.

"This is really the city's team; this is the city's pro team," ESPN 680 Host and Vice President Drew Deener said.

The University of Louisville basketball team may be No. 5 in the AP poll going into Madness of March, but when it comes to value, they're No. one for the third year in a row. saying they're worth $39.5 million. That's up three percent from last year.

Surprised? "No, not at all. It doesn't surprise me a bit," Paul Gilles said.

Zoup restaurant owner Paul Gilles wasn't shocked at all when he heard the rankings. UK comes in third on the list at $32.5 million and Indiana rounds out the top five at $25.4 million.

"This region is just basketball crazy and we are always one of the highest rated areas. Everyone is filling out their brackets. Everyone that comes into my restaurant that's all they're talking about," Gilles said.

But why the steady climb for Louisville?

"Louisville's basketball program is basically like a second football program from a revenue generating standpoint," Deener said.

Much of the reason for the UofL ranking is the KFC Yum! Center. Since it has opened the team has ranked third in average home game attendance every season.

"I think people just pay for their seats. They're willing to pay. There's a price on the ticket then there's a donation that goes with it," Deener said.

Forbes reports alumni contributions account for $29 million and nearly three fourths of that went to the basketball program.

"It's not beer money that's doing it; it's the support of donors and boosters and the price they pay for tickets," Deener said.

Locals are happy with the number one spot; it helps their business too.

"It helps the enthusiasm of downtown; everybody coming down here with the Yum! Center and all the fun activities going on down here," Gilles said.